The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has instructed commercial banks operating in the Kingdom to work remotely and minimize the number of working branches to provide only necessary services that are not available online for the safety of bank staff and customers during the coronavirus outbreak.
It also instructed financial institutions under its supervision to set a maximum number of customers to be served at the same time according to the size of the branch, and to ensure a safe distance between customers in waiting areas, and between bank staff and customers.
To enhance the capabilities of the electronic and digital payments channels and provide more options to individuals, SAMA has designed a “regulatory sandbox” to accommodate local as well as international digital companies wishing to test new digital solutions in a “live” environment with a view to deploying them in Saudi Arabia in the future.
Sandboxes are a legislative experimental environment which aim to test the impact of new technologies and understand their impact on the financial services market.
To encourage individuals who are living in the Kingdom to use electronic payment channels, SAMA has increased the purchase limit of Atheer-enabled cards (supporting NFC technology) from SR100 to SR300 for a single transaction without the need to enter a PIN code.
Such precautionary measures taken by SAMA encourages the use of electronic payments channels and helps in the fight against the coronavirus.
Talat Zaki Hafiz is an economist and financial analyst.